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Common Ways Winter Conditions Can Damage Your Car

Driving a Car on Winter
You do several things to prepare for the harsh Colorado winters. You cover your windows with plastic to protect your home and take extra vitamin C to protect your health. Keeping your car protected from the cold temperatures, snow, and ice of winter is equally as important. Your entire vehicle is vulnerable, but certain components are especially prone to winter-related damage.
Here are a few of the systems and components that are commonly impacted by winter.

1. The Engine

The cold winter temperatures affect your car's engine in several ways. For example, your engine uses viscous oil to lubricate the pistons. When engine oil cools, it becomes very thick. In sub-zero temperatures, the oil is so thick that it cannot effectively be distributed by the oil pump.
Your driving habits and the desire to step into a warm car can also impact your engine's health. Many people warm up their car in the winter, meaning they idle it for several minutes before leaving the home. In addition to allowing the heater to circulate warm air throughout the cab, warming up older cars with traditional carburetors works effectively.
Newer models feature a fuel-injected carburetor. Idling a car with a fuel-injection system is unnecessary and potentially damaging.  The car's engine and other components will warm up much faster while you are driving.

2. The Brakes

The combination of nasty road conditions, snow storms, and damaging winds will put any driver on edge. More than any other time of the year, your vehicle's brakes must be in peak condition during the weather. Unfortunately, abrupt stops on slippery roads and riding the brakes during a snowstorm can quickly wear down the brake pads and rotors.
Before winter, contact your mechanic to have all the components of your brakes tested and if necessary, repaired or replaced.

3. The Tires

Like your brakes, a set of quality tires is critical during the winter. Switching out your all-season or summer tires for a set of winter or snow tires is the first step to preparing for nasty driving conditions. Throughout the winter, keep an eye on your tire's pressure because it is dramatically impacted by the colder temperatures.
Each time the outdoor temperatures drops by 10 degrees, your vehicle's tires will lose approximately one to two pounds of pressure. Underinflated tires cannot grip as well, which leads to handling and traction issues.
The ideal psi, or pounds per square inch, for your tire's make and model is found on the unit's sidewall. Using a tire gauge, check the pressure of each tire periodically throughout the winter, especially when the temperature drops below zero.

4. The Cooling System and Transmission

In addition to motor oil, the fluids needed to properly maintain your vehicle's cooling system and transmission thicken during the winter. Your vehicle's automatic transmission is responsible for shifting the gears for you. If the fluid is too thick, your transmission will not work properly or could seize, which will not allow you or the vehicle to shift gears.
Another fluid you need to maintain during the winter is antifreeze, which helps keep your car functioning as the temperatures drop.
Before the temperatures begin to drop, have fluid levels in your car checked, including your transmission fluid and antifreeze. The systems made need to be flushed, which is a process that removes all the older fluids and replaces them with clean product. Maintaining the proper antifreeze and transmission fluid levels throughout the winter is the best way to prevent them from thickening.
From thick fluids to damaged brakes and wear on the engine, these are several ways that the cold and snow of winter can impact your vehicle. If you have any more questions, contact the professionals at Palmer Brothers Auto Parts.